Saturday, February 27, 2016

Photo challenge Day 6 of 7: ‘Detritus’

The sixth photo in this series, "Detritus", tells a story, as all the photos do. When I posted it, I wrote:
“Detritus". The penultimate photo in this series shows debris: A broken deck share next to a derelict BBQ (complete with cover!) waiting to go wherever such things go, some branches I trimmed off our neighbours trees that were hanging over the fence, some dead sticks that fell from the tree are on the ground, and in the shadows a black plastic rubbish sack I use to collect weeds and leaves for composting (it's where those dead leaves on those branches are headed next). So, debris from nature and humans all meet in one place.
I didn’t pose the photo—that’s the way it actually was. Bella likes to sleep on the BBQ, since it’s warm and safe within the completely fenced space next to our garage. That same area is where I hang the washing to dry on sunny days, and where I’ve shot many photos over the years—including “Evicted” on Day 2 of this series.

While I didn’t pose the photo, I did use some of my tricks to improve the lighting. I wanted to brighten some of the shadow areas, and with a stronger light than natural light alone. I also wanted it a bit harsher. So, just as I did with “Under” on Day 3, is used the scrap flooring underlay positioned in the full sun, but this time I used the silvery side to reflect a harsher light.

This is most obvious on the twigs in the foreground, and it’s a bit gentler under the chair (compare it with the photo below, which has no additional lighting, reflected or otherwise). Interestingly, it also actually increased the shadow in areas I didn’t want to highlight, something I hadn’t planned on, but was happy about. If I had more experience, maybe I wouldn’t have known that would happen, but I didn’t.

The only other special thing I did was tilt my phone slightly to straighten the shot a bit—it’s actually on a slope (which is why that paver is under the wheel of the BBQ). Rotating my phone slightly made the fence boards appear to lean (they’re actually vertical, as would be expected). I thought this helped make it a little unsettling in a very subtle way, since we expect fences to be vertical: What’s actually leaning? Our eyes would assume the BBQ is normal, but then there’s that fence, so…

All of that's probably too subtle, but it was part of what I was trying to do. The juxtaposition of human-made and nature debris (and a combination of the two) was the overall point of this photo, of course, and that’s in keeping with one of my themes in this series.

The one thing I didn’t say anywhere, though, is the simple reason why the branches were lying there in the first place: I wanted them dried out. Most of the stuff I put in that black sack is weeds I’ve pulled up or cut down, and they need to be mixed with dry matter to compost properly. Leaving the cut branches to dry meant I could have some dry matter for composting, and it would make the remaining sticks easier to get rid of than full leafy branches.

And that’s the back-story for this photo.

The final post in this series is tomorrow.

Another photo in the series I took to get the one I used, but taken without any reflected light.

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